Tablets are Not PCs, Google Finds


One of Google’s studies of tablet use over a two-week period, which had users recording every occasion that they used their tablet, shows that tablets really are not PCs, any more than smart phones are used in the same way that PCs are used.

Most consumers use their tablets for fun, entertainment and relaxation while they use their desktop computer or laptop for work, Google User Experience Researchers Jenny Gove and John Webb say. About 91 percent of the time that people spend on their tablet devices is for personal rather than work related activities.

And, as it turns out, when a consumer gets a tablet,  they quickly migrate many of their entertainment activities from laptops and smart phones to this new device.

The most frequent tablet activities are checking email, playing games and social networking. The study also found that people are doing more activities in shorter bursts on weekdays (social networking, email) while engaging in longer usage sessions on weekends (watching videos/TV/movies).

Tablets are multi-tasking devices with at least 42 percent of activities occurring while doing another task or engaging with another entertainment medium.

Also, tablets are more accurately described as “untethered” devices than “mobile” devices, to the extent that tablets primarily are used at home. Unlike smart phones that go everywhere and laptops that travel between work and home, few consumers take their tablets with them when they leave the house.

However, consumers do take their tablets on vacation or work trips where they use them as a laptop replacement and a small number take them on their commute. The  research also found that tablets are for the most part a one-person device, although there are consumers who share their tablet with other family or household members.

Tablets are used on the couch, from the bed and in the kitchen.


The activities and locations shown in the above chart were self-reported by respondents.

For many people, websites and apps designed for smart phones just don’t cut it on tablets. Instead consumers are taking advantage of the bigger screen and prefer using fully featured apps and the full desktop sites on their tablet. Users also seem to do things on tablets that are exclusive to the tablets.

That could indicate that people shift app use to the tablet from their smart phones and PCs, or only undertake use of some apps on the tablet, when they might do so on a PC or smart phone.



Google on tablet use
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